Posts Tagged ‘dwight’

BAPTIZED: A Young Star and Future Preacher Finds Inspiration, Even in the Most Embarrassing of Basketball Moments

November 13, 2004, 1:15 PM EST

Dwight Howard II stretched on the lawn of his Altamonte Springs mansion and checked his watch… again. The Second Sanctified Church of the True Holy Spirit was throwing a picnic for their newest and most high-profile parishioner, but the guest of honor was running a little late. “Where is Big D?” he wondered.

Not long after, a gleaming pearl-white Hummer H2 rolled down the cul-de-sac. The driver slowed to a stop before Dwight and opened the front passenger door, blasting Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp” loud enough to vibrate the whole neighborhood. The driver, Big Dwight, was now a good half-foot shorter than his son. He snatched Dwight’s long arm as if to hurry him into the SUV. For a moment, Little Dwight thought he was being abducted before he recognized his namesake.

“Pops, what in heaven’s name is going on?” Big Dwight was wearing dark-tinted sunglasses… connected to a brown rubber nose and fuzzy eyebrows.

“Quick, put this on!” his father insisted, handing him a plastic bag. Inside the bag was a wig. A blonde, but very much afro, wig. Reminiscent of Barbara Streisand during the “A Star is Born” years.

“Father! Have you gone mad?”

“Who told you to be standing outside? You can’t be seen in public right now. There’s too much commotion.”

“Commotion? About what?” Dwight II reached for the bag of almonds sitting between them, only to have his hand slapped.

“Haven’t you been served enough nuts already?”  Now the plot begins to dawn on the rookie.

“What in the world happened Thursday night?”

“Oh, THAT… C’mon, Pops, it was no big deal. Kobe got into it with a heckler at courtside in the second quarter. They were saying all the curse words there are to say. Then Kobe got up and I overheard him saying to the guy, ‘You woke me up now,’ but I didn’t know what he meant by that… until a little later.”

“So you knew Kobe was gonna do something. Why couldn’t you step out from under the basket? You just threw your hands up like you were under arrest and jumped right under the basket!”

“Well, Pops… I’ve got to testify. I was distracted because a split-second before Kobe got open in the lane… I looked up and I saw the Son of God.”

“Really? I thought that Shammgod kid had only one daughter!”

“NO, Pops, you’re getting senile. I saw Him. J.C.!”

Dwight the elder rolled his eyes. “Oh great, the ‘vision’ thing again. Where was he this time, up in the rafters, eating Jujyfruits?”

“There was this bright flash, you see. Then He appeared out of the flash. Looked more like Doc this time, you remember last time in that high school game I said He showed up looking like Scot Pollard? Anyway, as His image grew closer, I thought I heard Him say something like, ‘James 4:6,’ and then he touched my face with his purple scarf.”

“Some scarf! That was Kobe ’s purple shorts, son!”

“I know, that’s when Kobe screamed ‘get off me!’ and I snapped out of it, and the whole crowd looked like those monkeys you see in the cartoons, with some covering their mouths and others covering their eyes. Kobe didn’t look at his teammates when he ran back up court, but instead he stared down the heckler and said, ‘Did that wake you up?’… You don’t believe any of this, do you? It’s no lie! Go to Don’t Blink Mixtape dot com and see the video for yourself Just like that time in high school, my hands were up in the air before Kobe even stepped in the paint. I was jumping in the midst of praise, not trying to block a shot. Mine eyes had seen the glory…”

“Obviously not of the coming of the Kobe . What did your so-called teammates say for hanging you out to dry like that?”

“Pat Garrity was like, ‘My bad, Dwight,’ for letting Kobe blow by him off the pick. And the Christian teammate that I am, I just had to forgive him, it’s not his fault he’s such a stiff. I told Franchise about my vision after the game, and he said Kobe thought during that play he experienced the Second Coming himself.”

“Really?” Big Dwight parks the car at the Publix.

“Then he said, ‘Yeah, right, Kobe. The First Coming was when you porked that scank hoe up in Colorado!’ Forgive me, I’m just quoting. Stevie is always jokes.”

“Yeah, we’ll see if that ballhog is still laughing when the GM ships him to the Knicks or somewhere like that. And I’m glad that philanderer Kobe ’s not on your team, that old heathen… James 4:6, huh? ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

“So, Pops, you think Jesus was trying to warn me not to get too proud?”

“Either that, or LeBron’s gonna drop 46 on you next time you teams play. Run in and pick up my order of potato salad, I’m too embarrassed to be seen in there.”

Dwight still couldn’t seem to understand why his father is making such a big deal about the dunk that he has to go incognito. Heading from the deli counter to the checkout, Dwight received the usual smiles and greetings, but the scene was a bit eerie. If he COULD swear, he would swear that he heard the guys snickering at the meat counter as he passed, something about trying the meatballs. When he turned to look, the guys each turned their backs, bit their lips and tried to appear busy.

A young teen suddenly appeared, shy and clutching a Sharpie pen. “Hi Mister Howard.” The poor boy was wearing a bright yellow knee-length coat, which seemed odd to Dwight because it was still very warm outside even though it was November. But Dwight was still thrilled to see he is already becoming recognized by the impressionable youth of America . “Well, hello, young man, how may I bless you, today?”

“Uhhhhhh, I was, ummmmm, wondering if you’ll sign something for me.”

Dwight couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. “Why sure, anything for a fine young Magic fa-” Immediately upon affirmation, the kid snapped upon the coat buttons to unveil an XXL-sized tee with an iron-on of an exultant Kobe flushing the ball authoritatively while almost eye-level with the rim, his crotch riding the armpit of poor Dwight, who peers out from under him, eyes affixed to the heavens.

Crash. “Cleanup on Checkout Aisle 8!” as a bagger drops some lady’s pickle jar after witnessing this kid’s brazen act of treachery. But Dwight’s faithful upbringing had helped him learn to turn the other cheek, or armpit as the case may be. “Where do you want me to sign?”

“Daddy said anywhere but on your forehead, he’s saving that spot for Kobe .”

Below the net, Dwight penned, “Jesus Saves! Dwight Howard #12.” The kid muttered a lame “thank you” and ran off looking down at his mission-accomplished. The kid stopped at the door and returned.

“Mister Howard, Jesus Saves? We’re Jewish!”

“God probably won’t hold that against you, son.” Dwight replied, patting the teen on the head, almost forgetting that probably just six years separate them. “Tell Daddy not to sell that on E-bay, okay?”

Climbing back into the H2, he couldn’t wait to tell what happened. But Big D was checking his voicemail.

“Phew! It’s the bank president… says he sorry and it won’t happen again… won’t press charges… that was a close one.” Dwight lifted his eyebrows as his father finally removed the rubber nose-and-glasses. “Son, I’m sorry. This morning I popped the bank manager in his nose.”

Dwight II was astonished. “What? Why would you do such a thing? They wouldn’t open you a new account?”

“Well the guy asked for some ID, and when he looked it over he was like, ‘Oh yes, yes, Dwight Howard! So I hear Kobe Bryant knooooows your son?’ And I say, ‘Of course he does! They play in the NBA together.’ Then the smart-aleck goes, ‘Noooo, I meant in the Biblical sense. Kobe really “knows” him now, huh?’ And he’s laughing and winking! The nerve of that guy! So I stood up, Lord forgive me I hauled off on him, then grabbed back my things and took off running for the Hummer. On camera, I know it looked like I stole something, but I was too fast for the guards to stop me. So that’s why I’m in hiding, I wasn’t ashamed of you or anything. I’m just glad we didn’t wind up on the news or get arrested at the church picnic!”

“I can’t blame you, Pops. But I’m glad it turned out okay.”

“Uncle Buster called from ATL. Said he heard Nike wants to use that dunk in ads to help Kobe get back to selling some sneakers. Putting up murals and billboards in big cities everywhere. You remember the preseason dunk Kobe had over Ben Wallace?

“Yeah, you had Buster blow it up into a poster for me. Adidas airbrushed all the other players out, and the name on the back of Wallace’s jersey. That was a sick dunk. It’s still up on the wall back home, right?”

“Yeah, but it sounds like Nike wants to airbrush your behind next. That Williams kid getting you at the Roundball Classic was one thing. But this here…”

That Williams kid. Dwight recalled the Slamadamonth-worthy poster from last year when the UNC recruit from Seattle made a big name for himself by flying past him and cramming the rock. Dwight the elder spent months with his wisecracking State trooper buddies explaining away the poster: Little Dwight was late on the play; there was a switch; he wasn’t really dunked “on;” Josh Smith took it worse from Marvin in the first half.

“…we can’t spin-doctor this Kobe dunk here… Enough with this rookie play, it’s time you smashed on a few veterans, Little D. There’s plenty of victims out there just lined up for you! I mean, Eddy Curry’s out there, you can pack one on Big Ben. And what’s that dude’s name, Rasho…”

“I don’t need to prove myself to anybody, Pops! I’m the number-one overall pick!”

“So was that Kandi Man guy, and look what Amare did to his career.

“True, true… Nesterovic, Pops, Nesterovic. Isn’t this too much like revenge, though?”

“Yeah, Nesterovic, whatever. I didn’t say to dunk in Kobe’s mug, that would be revenge, and God might not forgive you even though I sure as heck would. You make enough poster children outta these other guys and people will forget all about what Kobe did to you. Look how Ben Wallace stepped up his game. These days, most people don’t know who that big bald-headed fool in Vegas was. All you ever hear is, ‘Remember when Kobe crossed up some guard dunked all on some big guy in preseason?’ Some big guy, ha!”

“Maybe I should just grow a ‘fro, Pops.”

“You don’t need to… don’t you see I just bought you one!”

The Howards arrived at the Eatonville park laughing hysterically. Joining the fellow churchgoers was fun and spiritually uplifting, but minutes later Dwight turned his attention to the kid’s basketball court, complete with 8-foot rims and wild adolescents. As would be expected, the kids all tried to jump up and slam the ball through the hoop, role-playing their favorite NBA ballers.

“I’m D-Wade!”
“No, you can’t be Vince too!”
“Watch me do like T-Mac off the backboard.”

Then one tall fat kid proclaimed, “I’m Dwight Howard.” The glee Dwight experienced would again be short-lived, as all the other youngsters tried to do their best Kobe Bryant impersonation, climbing up on the all-too-compliant chubster’s shoulders to jam the ball through the rim, to eruptions of childish laughter.

“You’re not eating your chicken.” It was the Right Reverend Bishop Teikyo Money.

“Oh, uh, hi Bishop Money, glory to God! No, I’m eating light, we’ve got a game in Philly tomorrow.”

“You seem so dispirited. What’s going on, my good brother?”

“Well Bishop Money, here I am, a Naismith Award winner, PARADE All-American, won all the High School Player of the Year awards, MVP of the McDonald’s All-Star game, State basketball champ, 18 rebounds and 8 blocks a game, and the first high schooler ever taken number one in the draft. I think with all I’ve accomplished I’ve been feeling… a little too proud lately.”

“You’re not suffering from pride, brother Dwight, you’re just recognizing all the gifts that Gawd has given you and the potential you have with all these gifts. It can be overwhelming at times. Now, Satan, he’ll come along and try to distract you from your true purpose. I happened to read Dime magazine the other day. And you said you wanted to be the first person to do what?”

“To dunk on Shaq, Reverend Money.”

“Now first of all, Kobe Bryant was the last to get him, jumped right over his head for a tip jam in practice. That was what started the rift that caused Shaq to split for Miami . And you’re probably too young to remember Derrick Coleman and Clifford Robinson.”

Dwight was just getting over the Reverend’s choice of magazines, and was now amazed by his hoops knowledge. “Old Uncle Cliffy did that?”

“He wasn’t so old, but go ask your father. Anyway, I ask you, with all the gifts Gawd has bestowed upon you, is dunking on Shaq the real purpose Gawd has set aside for you?”

“You have a good point there, Pastor.”

The Reverend shifted into full-on preacher mode. “Now sometimes, Satan will try to knock you down. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to dunk on you-suh. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to break ya off at the ankles-suh. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to throw genitalia-suh in your face-suh, Hit ya in the forehead-suh with the Spalding-suh…” All he needed was a B3 organ and some more “right ons,” and the sermon could be delivered a day too early, but the Reverend was rolling as he placed his hand on Dwight’s shoulder. “But every time-suh, you got to riiiiiiiise up-suh, and play full of the Spirit-suh, the True Spirit, it’s faaaantastic-suh! Can I get an Amen!”

“Amen, preacher.” With Reverend Money hopping fanatically, Dwight felt infinitely better about himself at that moment than he had all weekend long, although the flying Jheri Curl juice would certainly dissuade him from finishing his barbeque plate.

After coming down from on high, Reverend Money leaned into his future deacon. “Would you do me a big favor, Brother Dwight?”

“Why sure, anything.”

“Well you see… I’ve got these XXL T-shirts here I’d like to sell, for the church you know…”

“Sorry, I’ve got to go, Reverend Money, God be with you. Hey Pops! We’re outta here.”



December 20, 2006

Chris Paul just wants a little space. Despite his Rookie of the Year accolades, every time he drives in the lane, opposing teams treat him like Earl Boykins, cutting off passing lanes, daring him to lay it up. Opponents know the guard will drive the lane since he can’t hit threes. They also know with Peja and David West out, he’s got no passing options, unless you consider Desmond Mason or Tyson Chandler from 10 feet out an “option.” So “crowd the paint and dare Chris to lay it up around the post men” is the one-dimensional defensive game plan, and so far it has worked. Going into the matchup with the Magic, the Hornets have won only two of its past 12 games. But opponents didn’t plan on another dimension to this six-foot guard’s game.

Dwight Howard recognized Chris Paul’s man was lost on the pick – from the very same spot on the floor that Kobe beat his man before making a shorts ornament out of Dwight two years ago.

But at least Kobe could dunk, Dwight thought to himself. As CP3 flew past him to the hoop, the 6-foot-11 center waited patiently for the layup attempt so he could go for the swat, maybe intimidate the little guy enough that he could add to his league-leading rebounds total. This time, though, there would be no layup.

Dwight was curious about the message on Chris’ yellow wristband. And Chris was more than happy to share it with Dwight as he neared the rim, offering him a point-blank view. Much to the Manchild’s dismay it didn’t read, “WWJD?” or “LIVESTRONG.” Instead, in very small font the wristband displayed the message Chris Paul offers to all future big men who dare to challenge him at the rim.